QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF MILLGATE HOMES LIMITED||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MS SARAH-JANE DAVIES (instructed by THE TREASURY SOLICITOR, LONDON, SW1H 9JSM) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"(1) The proposal would result in a form of backland development which would be incompatible with the layout and character of existing development in Linkswood Road, and would also be likely to appear obtrusive to adjoining dwellings to the detriment of their amenities. Consequently the proposal is contrary to policies H9 and EP3 of the South Bucks District Local Plan (adopted March 1999).
(2) Furthermore, the proposal, if permitted, would be likely to act as a precursor of further applications for similar forms of development in respect of other sites in the vicinity of the application site, which the District Planning Authority would find increasingly difficult to resist, and which, cumulatively would bring about an undesirable and significant change in the character and amenity of the area."
"Dwellinghouses in this locality comprise of reasonably sized two storey houses fronting on to Linkswood Road with the majority of dwellings filling the width of the plot. The size and depth of rear garden areas in Linkswood Road are generous, and are particularly so in respect of those associated with Nos 6 and 8 Linkswood Road. The density of development in this area is therefore fairly low. Development which borders the site to the south and south east (ie Pipers Close and The Fairway) consist of more modest sized dwellings set within substantially smaller plots. Mature screening in the form of conifers, trees and shrubs exist along the south and south east boundaries of the site."
"The proposed layout of the dwellings would contrast markedly with surrounding development insofar as Linkswood Road and Pipers Close consist entirely of dwellings fronting the highway. The siting of dwellings in the position and manner proposed would introduce a much more built up appearance to the locality and would be of detriment to the amenities of nearby dwellings particularly those in The Fairway and Pipers Close by virtue of their appearing obtrusive when viewed from these properties."
"Although each application must be determined on its own merits, the precedent argument is of obvious relevance in this appeal ... By means of explanation, if development plan policies seek to encourage development which is compatible with the character and amenities of the surrounding area and which should safeguard and where possible enhance the character of the surrounding area, if proposals which would result in overdevelopment of the site through backland development were granted planning permission, there may be increasing pressure in the future to allow similar residential development of the same or even smaller plot lengths and sizes to the rear of existing dwellings which over time would erode the spacious character of the area of Linkswood Road/Dropmore Road in general. Should subsequent proposals be put forward for backland development in the vicinity (for example on the opposite side of Linkswood Road accessed via the side of No 11 Linkswood Road or a site accessed for example to the side of No 68 Dropmore Road) in a similar way to that proposed to the rear of Nos 6 and 8 Linkswood Road, such a proposal would be difficult to resist if the Council had allowed the current proposal. Clearly, such developments over time would lead to an erosion in the general spacious character of the area. A precedent could clearly have been set therefore if the Council had taken a lenient view over this application."
"Reference to the submitted Layout Plans submitted in respect of the three appeals show that the proposed development will not impose markedly on the surrounding development. It is agreed that existing dwellings in Linkswood Road and Pipers Close consist of dwellings fronting the highway but the erection of the proposed development in the spacious Appeals Site will not be widely viewed from the street scenes such as to have any harmful visual impact. The Layout Plans also illustrate that the siting of the proposed developments will be set well away from surrounding development and will be orientated to avoid any unacceptable amenity objections.
It is a basic tenet of the planning system that each application should be considered on its own individual merits. Having considered the other areas referred to by the LPA as under risk for future development should these appeals be allowed it is respectfully considered sufficient to say they are not directly comparable to the subject site either in size, relationship to surrounding development, landscape and various other matters of detail. Should applications ever be submitted to the LPA for the development of the other sites referred to they will duly need to be considered according to their own particular merits."
"The applications were all submitted in outline. In the application pertaining to Appeal A [the appeal with which we are concerned], the matters of external appearance and landscaping were reserved for a subsequent application and therefore siting, means of access and design were part of the outline application. In the cases of Appeals B and C, design was additionally reserved."
"The main issue is the effect of the proposal on the character and the appearance of the surrounding residential area.
"8. The appeal site comprises parts of the substantial back gardens to 6 and 8 Linkswood Road. Both gardens are currently mainly grassed, except at the very rear where they are overgrown and unkempt. They both include a number of trees and mature shrubbery, including the protected false acacia at no 6 and mature screening at the site boundaries. Around the site, Linkswood Road is an attractive street, characterised by single detached dwellings sited in large plots and fronting the road. Nearby streets such as Pipers Close are also developed along these lines, but to somewhat higher densities. ...
9. In my view, the surrounding residential area has a distinctive and cohesive character based, not least, on the ubiquity of frontage plots. The proposed development would considerably alter the layout of the site and I consider that the introduction of backland housing would be detrimental to that character. The proposed access way would be formed from the existing drive to 6 Linkswood Road; however as it would serve the proposed dwellings as well as this house, so the development would effectively change this drive into a minor estate road created between two detached properties. The proposed dwellings would be visible, particularly from surrounding properties, and they would appear to be at variance with the surrounding estate. Were this proposal to be allowed, it would establish a precedent, in my view, for development of similar backland locations, particularly other properties in Linkswood Road that have large gardens, and this would cause unacceptable harm to the quality of the townscape of the area. I consider that the proposed development would be incompatible with and cause unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding area. It would thus conflict with relevant policies of the development plan to which I have referred."
"11. Third parties have raised numerous other matters, which include the following. There are many objections in relation to highway safety, including the safety of the junction with Dropmore Road, the safety of the access road, the private ownership of and the bend in Linkswood Road, and the increase in traffic that would result from the proposed development. I note, however, that the Council was satisfied with the proposals in these respects, and I see no reason to disagree with their assessments. I also take the view that the proposed developments would not cause harm to nearby residents in respect of privacy, overbearance, noise or loss of light, due to the distances between the site and adjacent houses. I am unable to take account of the external appearance of the three schemes in the context of these appeals; as this is a matter which is reserved for subsequent approval in each case. Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that the proposed development would reduce security, jeopardise protected wildlife species or put pressure on local facilities or services in the area. Nonetheless, these matters do not outweigh my conclusions on the main issue of these appeals."
So the Inspector in dismissed the appeal.
Ground 2 - Precedent
"A number of the letters of objection received from local residents cited concern about this application setting a precedent for further similar proposals and, in fact, this formed one of the reasons for refusal with the application submitted in 1997. However, given the generous plot sizes proposed by this application and the screening surrounding the south and south east boundaries of the site, I consider that the opportunities for further similar development on a site with similar characteristics are limited within Linkswood Road."
It will be noted that the Officer did not discount the possibility of further similar development. His view was that the opportunities for such development were limited. In any event the members disagreed, hence reason 2 for refusal which was amplified in the council statement and responded to by the claimant as set out above.
Ground 3 - Frontage Plots
Ground 4 - Variance